10 Internet threats you want to know about

By Claudiu Popa

From the moment we unwrap that shiny new cell phone or unpack a new, user-friendly computer we are presented with opportunities to ‘get online’ and ‘look at stuff’. Indeed that ‘stuff’ is now the bulk of the value of the Internet as far as users – employees and home users alike – are concerned.

Claudiu Popa


Unfortunately we’re at a random point in the evolution of the Internet where the criminal element and the amoral minorities have a huge footprint in the online world. Indeed, it would not be an exaggeration to say that surfing the Internet without filtering its content is akin to having unprotected sex with strangers.

Playing with fire may be exciting at first, but the outcome is practically inevitable. And so I volunteer, in the name of randomness of course, to list my top 10 Internet security follies of the moment.


1. Facebook apps

    This social network’s symbiotic (read: incestuous) relationship with its Application Platform continues to disturb.

2. Phishing emails

    Unsolicited emails asking you to do things, RIGHT NOW? Take a break and don’t. See what happens.

3. Unsecured online payment forms

    Payment form? Look at your watch. Look at your calendar. If it doesn’t say HTTPS it’s too old for this millennium.

4. Using weak passwords

    Be they weak because you’re too lazy to come up with something decent, or because they’re the default password your router came with, there’s no excuse.

5. Firewalls that don’t filter outgoing traffic

    Ah yes, gone are the days when firewalls only filtered incoming traffic. Now infections call home from within.

6. Browser search bars

    Really? Do we absolutely need one more search bar, or is it just more spyware we’ll have to wrestle with later?

7. Infected sites indexed by Google Images

    If a pop-up warning comes up when you click on just the right image, you’ve gone too far. Click your way back to the beaten path.

8. Two words: Typical install

    Don’t exercise your right to apathy by clicking “Typical Install”. Keep that for phishing emails instead, and preserve some control over what Internet applications install and where. You may need to uninstall them in a hurry.

9. Urgent response

    Did an unexpected pop-up just appear pressing you for an answer RIGHT NOW? It knows you won’t click Yes. It expects you to click No, or Cancel. So don’t. Just hit the [x]

10. Sharing needles

    USB keys. Can you trust them? Not if they’ve been in any other computer than yours. Whether it’s a buddy’s PC or the corner print shop, treat them as the enemy.

Why stop at 10? Because one thing the Internet has done is given us instant access to information and along with that, the impatience to expect it right now. So if you walk away with just one tidbit from today’s post it’s that the notion of urgency will tend to work against you online. Practically every time. Just have another look at the above points and show me one where it doesn’t play a key role. Can you?

About the author:
Claudiu Popa, is the CEO of Toronto’s Informatica Corporation (

Follow him at or to blog posts

Claudiu Popa
Claudiu Popa
Claudiu Popa is a security and privacy advisor to Canadian enterprises, associations and agencies. He is an author, speaker and lecturer. Connect with him on Twitter @datarisk, Facebook, G+ or LinkedIn.

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